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Miami�A Jehovah’s Witness who received a blood transfusion at a Delray Beach, Fla., hospital after he allegedly refused it on religious grounds is suing the hospital, accusing it of battery and falsification of medical records. The suit was filed in Palm Beach Circuit Court in January by Julio Cordero, 29, who was injured in an auto accident in May 2000 and operated on at Delray Medical Center, where the transfusion was given. The hospital is owned by national hospital chain Tenet Healthcare Corp. Claims based on provision of medical services without proper informed consent typically are framed as medical malpractice. A battery claim, however, could sidestep Florida’s new statutory cap on noneconomic damages in malpractice actions. The suit cites no specific injury to Cordero other than “trespass against his body.” “The battery charge is based on my client’s total lack of consent,” said Cordero’s attorney, George Bender, a partner at Bender Bender & Chandler in Coral Gables. “He is extremely devout. It is his deep and firm belief that transfusion is unacceptable for religious reasons.” Bender declined to discuss the suit in greater detail, citing his client’s privacy concerns. Courts in Florida and other states repeatedly have upheld the First Amendment right of adult Jehovah’s Witnesses to refuse transfusion, even in life-threatening situations. But Cordero’s suit may be the first case brought by an adult Jehovah’s Witness alleging that a transfusion was given against the Witness’ wishes, experts say. Delray Medical Center spokeswoman Pat McCarthy declined to discuss Cordero’s suit, saying it was against hospital policy to discuss pending litigation. Harry Anderson, spokesman for Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Tenet, said patient confidentiality prevented him from discussing the case.

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